Kourion Mosaics, archaeological sites, Halloumi and more mosaics ~ Day four of my Cypriot Adventure

Visiting the Kourion Archaeology site in Cyprus, with spectacular Roman mosaics, also a Halloumi Farm and contemporary mosaics in Limassol


The Thursday was about heading to Limmasol, and visiting the Roman site of Kourion.  Like all of our trips away from Lefkara, we had to do a couple of stop offs en-route, and today’s detour was via a halloumi farm.

The delights of halloumi are many, great taste, unusual texture, pretty healthy, a great addition to the salad, and I have even found a cashew nut and halloumi curry recipe which is fantastic!  So we were all really pleased to get taken to meet the goats and sheep, whose milk is combined to make the halloumi, and to see the process of making it, and of course to taste…

Herding the Sheep
Herding the Sheep at the Halloumi Farm in Cyprus
Holding a Newborn
Holding a Newborn

The farm is one of the projects supported by the Martin of Grampian Heritage – trying to find ways of traditional agriculture entering the modern day, and here the problem is one of staffing.  They have more demand for their halloumi than they can manage, but struggle for staff in their rural location, and are caught in a position where they do not want to increase their herd size, then find they have no staff to milk.  A couple of the course participants mentioned the idea of woofers, individuals who would work for them in return for learning about the processes and enjoying Cypriot life – a hard concept to start with, but a model that was felt could be looked at to support the Halloumi Farm.

Whilst eating lunch, halloumi with tasty tomatoes and home made lemonade, I perused the varying artworks on the wall, and this caught my eye.  A mosaic of snail shells…

Mosaic Made of Snail Shells
Mosaic Made of Snail Shells

We then headed on into the centre of Limassol where we were to meet with the  Limassol Mosaic Collective. Originally started in 1981 as a wider group of contemporary mosaic artists, working individually and collaboratively, they now having to re-think their organisation and are closing their premises. The purpose of the visit was to show the group how mosaics can be used in a contemporary context, and it was useful to see their showcase pieces including a doorstep mosaic, a disabled sign on the toilet and a vespa.

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Upstairs they had a fantastic shop of tiles, and more tiles.  Not my cup of tea for my mosaics, being a recycle queen myself, but very tasty eye-candy anyway.  This is where Panayiota buys the materials for the classes. When they close, where will she go, or can I encourage her to give the recycling a go!?!

Then it was a quick visit to a bakery to pick up a carry out lunch, and on to Kourion, near Episkopi.

At this point, I should apologise for the photos.  It was blisteringly hot, and the sun was beating down, and whilst most of the mosaics were protected, under cover, it was so difficult to get images due to the shadow play.  I have done my best with the mosaic images. The heat was too much for some, and the site pretty big, so it was a bit of a mad dash around to see the best bits. We were there at about 3pm, and it must have been nearly 30°, if not more, and the site closed at 5pm, so one tip for the Department of Antiquities, have a longer lunch time and open later into the evening, so more visitors could enjoy the site in comfort.

The Roman ruins, with some impressive mosaics, date back to approximately the 4thcentury AD. And beyond mosaics, the rest of the archaeological site was of interest too! 

More-or-less the first mosaic you land on is the House of Eustolios with a large floor mosaic from the 5th Century.  The focal point of the central room of the baths features Ktisis (Creation) in a medallion holding an object thought to be a measure which is the length of a Roman foot.

Ktisis, or Creation, at the House of Eustolios
Ktisis, or Creation, at the House of Eustolios

The other three panels include a partridge motif, other birds and a fish.

One little bit of mosaic work that I spotted ~ a few years ago, I read a mosaic artist’s take on andemento, and the “correct” way to finish two lines going into together into a narrower space.  And seemingly so many people did it “wrong”.  Never one to follow the rules, I generally do it how it happens, if my materials allow it, how it looks.  And then I spotted this mosaic – the craftsperson on this job was doing it “wrong” too.

Andemento in Mosaic, Kourion
Andemento in Mosaic, Kourion

The whole site, beyond visiting the mosaics, was packed with the ruins of buildings, including pillars, clear indications of their heating systems, an amphitheatre, where Lucy did a good rendition of a scottish ballad, and arches, which made a great photographic back-drop. See below!

And how’s this for a hunk of a man?

House of Gladiators Mosaic Floor, Kourion
House of Gladiators Mosaic Floor, Kourion

Finally, and America’s Next Top Model moment, with Kirsty, Esther, Lucy and Judith (and me at the front)

kourion arch with us

This visit to Cyprus has been funded by Erasmus+, with ARCH Network as the promoter and Kato Drys Community Council as our hosts.  We were welcomed by Martin Clark, a resident of the town, who is also a partner in Arch Network, and is a Director of Grampus Heritage and training.

Cyprus Mosaic Days ~ day three

I was promised mosaics, and I got them in abundance during days three and four of the Cypriot study trip.  The Wednesday was all about the group making their own mosaics to take home, and so learning the dark arts of cutting tile, spacial awareness and sticking.

But first off, a quick visit to the local silversmiths just next door to the Student House.

There were two older men, casting beautiful silver pieces, many of them inspired by the history and flora & fauna of the area, including acorns (as the village of Kato Drys is named for the ancient Greek for oak – though few trees survive there today) and fertility symbols (see the last post about the museum).  As we found elsewhere, their grown-up children didn’t want to follow in their footsteps, but one of our group, Kirsty, did and hopes to have the chance to return and learn from them!

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One of the Silversmiths
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Martin Clark, taking a break

We then moved across to the student house, a charming house with an inner courtyard.  As I already know mosaics, Panayiota left me to my own devices to make a mosaic on mesh for the brick oven that we were making. I let her teach the class, though couldn’t resist assisting her when needed.

Panayiota has been making mosaics for the last few years, using mostly glass tile, but is very accomplished.  I hope I showed a new way of working and cutting to increase her skill set!  Love two-way sharing of info & skills!

I worked away on the fibreglass mesh which came from the back of the tiles, and used a box of ceramics which had come from Martin’s kitchen and his collection of coffee cups, searching out the special bits to include in my designs which in turn were inspired by our visit to the museum at Nicosia. The neolithic pots with zoomorphic designs.

So I finished with a goat, a cow, a fish and a couple of my usual flowers.

The others in the group made their own mosaics which were very diverse in colours and ambition.  Work – in – progress shots

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Having spent a lot longer than planned with the silversmiths, the grouting actually took place later in the week, but here are their finished mosaics

And a few of us finished off the day with a swim in the sea… way to go!

This visit to Cyprus has been funded by Erasmus+, with ARCH Network as the promoter and Kato Drys Community Council as our hosts.  We were welcomed by Martin Clark, a resident of the town, who is also a partner in Arch Network, and is a Director of Grampus Heritage and training.

My Cyprus Adventures ~ Day Two

Day two was all about Nicosia (Lefkosia), artefacts and the Turkish side…

We set off bright and early to the North town of Nicosia, which spans both the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides of the country.  We travelled via the Kornos Coop Pottery, a women’s collective established many years ago to support a small community of women workers.  Now only two people are creating traditional pots, and they are looking to retirement.


The two women demonstrating the making process, sit on low stools and feed the clay onto the bases of the pots at such speed, it was most impressive.  I have posted a tiny film on my Facebook Page here (as I don’t have the facility to do it on my WordPress site).

We then headed to Nicosia, to the Cyprus Museum, which houses the Archaeological treasures in 14 galleries, including art pieces “from the 8th millennium bc to the end of Antiquity.”

And here I found mosaic inspiration in abundance.

The utilitarian pots had decorations on them that showed the domestication of animals including cattle and goats.  Three of the designs were interpreted in mosaic later in the week for the kiln (watch out for when I get that one written).

And I was drawn to the fertility symbols, and most certainly feel a mosaic sculpture coming in the future… maybe for next year’s New Hopetoun Gardens Art in the Garden exhibition!  They were flat figures, with breasts and/or arms, some had faces some with expressions on them…  Not that I need any fertility help myself, of course, so may need to find another reason to make them…

And the jewellry was also inspiring.  Throughout the visit, I was more drawn to the textures and use of decoration in all of the different items on show, maybe that is to do with the visual artist in me.

And finally, for my creative ceramacist friend Anna Olson, who has made gingerbread babies in clay for Christmas garlands, this piece caught my eye

Gingerbread Babies
in the archaological museum in Nicosia

We then headed into the town centre of Nicosia, via a traditional lace shop, and a leather supply shop.  The leather shop is a supplier for some of the fashion projects undertaken with the Green Village shop in Lefkara, and is such an traditional, old-style shop full of leather notions!

Lefkara Embroidery
Traditional skills of embroidery of Lefkara

Then it was passports out, and crossed the Green Line into the Turkish side.  I won’t go into the history of it all here, and it is certainly complicated!  There are sad stories of atrocities and also positive stories of neighbours of different origins helping each other, but complicated and still on-going.  Ironically, there is a Peace mosaic (and another impressive sculpture nearby) right beside the passport control.

With a tasty lunch in the Buyuk Han, an old caravanserai with a good restaurant, some craftspeople and touristy shops – I bought a turquoise pomegranite ceramic vase to go in my new kitchen – we then had a bit of time out to do our own thing.  I visited the Selimiye Mosque, which used to be a Catholic Cathedral until the Ottomans, and you can still see the building construction.  As always, surface decoration appeals.

And finally, graffiti … always love a bit of graffiti and personal expression it allows

My Cyprus Adventures Continued – Day One

As I finally find time to sit and write, only because I woke up so early and am enjoying the peace and quiet before everyone else wakes, I hope to be able to add to my blogging diary!  This week has been so full on, yet truly inspiring for me, that there has been little free time, beyond later in the evening with a glass of wine… blogging lapsed from the first day!  and  now it is the last…

Our hosts, Martin and Panayiota are such lovely hosts.  Martin is larger than life, so knowledgeable, about the local flora and fauna, birds, neolithic sites… you name it, he has knowledge, and he collects branded coffee cups, brightly coloured vintage clothes and zoomorphic branded roof tiles.   Panayiota, whose name derives from the Greek epithet of Panagia or Panayia (“All-Holy”) for the Virgin Mary, and she is an absolute delight.  Married to a Greek Scotsman, she lived in Glasgow for many years and has that keen sense of humour.  She is also very talented in the traditional Lefkara lace, and seems to be related to so many people.

Martin and Panayiota
Martin and Panayiota

We started off the week with a tour of the village by Panayiota, who explained a lot of the idiosyncrasies of the architecture, that they are generally constructed around a courtyard to keep the house cool in the summer… with a big front door.  Of the ones that we saw open, they look so inviting and a the perfect place for a party! And we visited a few smaller churches, to look at the icons, and where she told us about some of their traditions – such as when it is their child’s names saints day, they would bake a special bread and share it with the congregation after the service.

A couple of things that, at first, look a bit weird, but then with explanation, you understand, there were wax heads and bodies by the altars, and in one small church dedicated to a saint whose “thing” was eyes, there was a collection of silver eyes.  All of these were offerings or tokens were for someone who was ill or needed divine intervention.

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After lunch we headed to Martin’s house, which is his place of teaching as well as his home. With curios and items on every wall, it is quite a fascinating place… especially his collection of cups with cafe/coffee/logos on (more about that later). And we got going on the adobe brick making.

This involved stomping about in a pit of clay / soil / liquid / straw until all the bits of whatever were broken up until it became a sludge.  This was then filled into the metal brick-making moulds (mostly by our hands), the mould pulled away and the bricks left to air dry. The moulds are made by tin-smiths in the Turkish side of Cyprus.

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stomping in the mix in size 11s
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the adobe brick oven base

these are existing ovens in Martin’s garden


Study Trip to Kato Drys Municipality in Cyprus

Watch out for some serious bloggin’ coming up this week as I have just flown out to Cyprus on a study trip, and my plan is to record my activities via this blog, as it will feature mosaics, more mosaics and other crafts along the way.

This visit to Cyprus has been funded by Erasmus+, with ARCH Network as the promoter and Kato Drys Community Council as our hosts.  We have been welcomed by Martin Clark, a resident of the town, who is also a partner in Arch Network, and is a Director of Grampus Heritage and training.  Martin has introduced me to concept of the Four Pillars of Sustainability; environmental, cultural, social and economic ~ it is worth watching his passionate short film about it here.

Traditional crafts and skills are alive and well in the Cyprus community of Lefkara and Kato Drys, where they make traditional local products for sale which have real integrity and a true sense of place, using crafts and skills that go back centuries! The week ahead looks at these traditional skills and products and considers why they have importance in our contemporary society. And I will reflect on how I can interpret my experiences into my mosaic practise, my role at Remake Scotland, my links with Comrie Croft and my own ethics and life plan!

So first of all, to introduce you to the participants ~ we are a mixed bunch ~


Kirsty Cassels ~ owner and director of Creative Cassels , an architectural designer and builder alongside being a creative soul who designs jewellery and has a passion for bricks!

Ian Ross Wallace ~ a mature Masters in archaeology student and a volunteer archaeologist for the National Trust for Scotland

Lucy Cunningham ~ the Education, Families and Youth officer at the RSPB, who is also musical, and another dance lover (bring on the moves!)

Judith Nott ~ lives and works in the Cairngorm National Park, as a wildlife guide and a volunteer ranger. As part of her work, she facilitates an altzeimers group.  Maybe I can get some tips for my mum!

Jenny Schwarz ~ Grants Fundraising Manager for Scottish Wildlife Trust, who is keen to learn about the interaction between the environment and local livelihoods

Keith Roberts ~ Reserves Project Officer for Scottish Wildlife Trust, he is super-excited to do the brick making and lime mortar, which is relevant to his work

Esther Hutchinson ~ works in the Learning and Access team in Glasgow Museums, mostly based at St Mungos, developing workshops for schools and community groups. She has an arts background, and may well be my partner in crime on the mosaic front.


My reading of choice on the flight here was “Creative Spaces, Contemporary use of Stone in Urban Spaces”, a recent report written by Perth based artist David F Wilson.


In the report, David reflects on the traditional approach inherent in the UK to drystone walling (harking back to the Enclosure Act) and to how stone carving focuses on heritage and conservation, and goes on to say

Now is when those concerned with the continuation of the skills should be exploring new methods of working better to the opportunities and challenges of the twenty-first Century” (page 9, David’s website is here)

I think the above quote will form a lot of the discussion of the week ahead, how the traditional Cypriot skills can be re-imagined so that they can have “a market”, how can the young adults be enthused to learn an old skill and make it their own, in their own style.

“every generation has the right to add culture, but neither should we completely divorce ourselves from the past and from our roots” Martin Clark

And for me, how can I learn the more traditional way of making a mosaic, the cutting, the placing of tesserae and even the chosen representation of an image, and then return to rural Perthshire and create my own metaphorical mosaic path?

Fortingall Art Summer Exhibition – 21st July 2018

Another In the Garden with Friends artist, Dave Hunt, has written a piece about the upcoming Fortingall Art Summer Exhibition which opens on the 21st July 2018.

Jo Cound will also be joining Dave at the exhibition, alongside some other great talent!

So copied, rather than re-pressed (or whatever the term is), here is his article for you to enjoy.

Fortingall Art Summer Exhibition : 14 years and still getting better…

It’s now just 5 weeks until the Molteno Hall in the picturesque Perthshire village of Fortingall will be opening its doors for an annual art exhibition that attracts visitors from both the local community and across Scotland, and beyond.

…. in the words of our esteemed Chairman, artist Eric Timms …

“Glen Lyon is said to be the longest and loneliest Glen in Scotland. True. But it is also the most creative Glen in the entire country. If you doubt this ambitious statement then come to our exhibition and make up your own mind. 35 top local artists will proudly be displaying new, fresh and exciting work that always surprises those that see the work.

Photography, oil paintings, water colours, fused glass, sculptures, contemporary furniture are just a few of the mediums on display. Jewellery that will bring the romantic out in you. Ceramics to contemplate. Contemporary ideas that will confuse and delight. Meet the artists who spend their time trying to make this world a better place to live in. They too will confuse and delight you.

Hop onto our website on www.fortingallart.co.uk and follow the artists who will be exhibiting by travelling around their websites and blogs. All the information you need to find us, and more, is there.

As Picasso said. “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”.

See you there dusty folk.

Eric Timms. Chairman.”

Fortingall Art Summer exhibition starts on Saturday 21st July and will be open every day until Sunday 5th August – admission free.

Small TullochsTeam LangoustineAutumn, Schiehallion from Loch RannochMoss in LoveQuercus PodsMinnow

The original article, and more images can be seen on their website here

Perthshire Creates Summer Design Market ~ Saturday 23rd June ~ Civic Hall, Perth

I have finally got the opportunity to participate in a summer event, having been so closely tied to seasonal work for the last 25 years… I have broken free, no longer at the beck and call of the tourist season, and am going to attend my first summer selling event.

This one is organised by Perthshire Creates, and takes place in the lovely Civic Hall at the Tay River end of the High Street, which was refurbished a couple of years ago.  It has lots of light and space, which makes for a great venue for a craft and design fair.  Many of the In the Garden with Friends exhibitors are participating in this fair, given that so many of my creative friends are actually located in Perthshire!

In the run up to the event, some of us have provided count-down images.  Here is todays one made by Bradley Napier Design.  My offering is at 4 days to go and features my Mavis sculpture, so if you want to see that, head over to the Perthshire Creates Event on Facebook Page


I will be focussing on my decorative slates which are suitable for outdoors – so think flowers, birds and fish, working my way through a pile of slates that have recently moved house with me, and also a stash of bone china plates (I have been working on a large project which has used the flat centres of dinner plates, leaving me with lots of edging, too good to throw away)

Other artists from the In the Garden with Friends crew who will be there are:

Crafty Lou
Kirsty Dalton
Kate Mclaughlin


Jenna McDonald
Diana King
Ceri White
Jo Cound


Perthshire Creates Summer Design Market ~ Saturday 23rd June ~ 10am – 4.30pm ~ Civic Hall, Perth